The final touch…
The finishing and polishing of a soapstone sculpture is when the stone reveals its true beauty, natural lustre and wonderful palette of colours. Not only does it embellish your artwork but it also helps to protect it.
The first step requires polishing the traces left on the surface by your tools. Start with a coarse-grained sandpaper, but as this will still leave marks after polishing you will need to move to papers with a finer grain at a later stage. It helps to regularly rinse the sculpture with water to eliminate the dust that is formed and see your progress. It is sometimes difficult to reach the deep and hollow parts. One tip is to fix sandpaper onto the point of the tool you used to make the cavity in the first place! For complex sculptures with a lot of cavities and shapes, we recommend polishing exclusively by hand in order to be in perfect harmony with the shapes you have created. Some abrasive paper wrapped around your finger works wonders when refining the most delicate parts!
Once you have finished the initial sanding you may want to make some corrections based on what you see, as some characteristic of the stone will only be revealed at this later stage.
Once this stage is complete be sure to wash, dry and dust your sculpture completely, ready for polishing. There a number of products available for this including polishing oil to be applied with a brush or a spray varnish for convenience. It is recommended to use products that take time to impregnate the stone between layers as these will penetrate deeper and protect your sculpture for longer. If you are using a varnish or oil, apply with a soft brush and for a wax use a clean rag.
Spread the product evenly over the surface of the stone, leave it to dry and then polish the surface with a rag. To get a smooth perfect surface it is best to repeat this step in several layers, making sure each layer is complete dry before applying the next one.
For the upkeep of your sculpture, we recommend you use the same product that you used for the finishing and varnishing. Time will also have a hardening, thus protecting, effect on your sculpture.
The completed work will keep the particular properties of the soapstone, namely its characteristic softness. Nevertheless this does not prevent you from touching it. The touch of the hand on the object will actually contribute to the natural polishing of the stone.
Your sculpture is now ready to be displayed with pride in your studio or gallery!